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STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

Sometimes, there are situations that beg for a time machine.

It wouldn't have to take you far -- back just a few months to the NHL off-season -- and you could place a big bet like Biff from the movie Back to the Future after he stole a sports almanac.

Seriously, how many of you would have predicted such a spectacular first half of the season for the Calgary Flames?

They reached 50 points in 38 games for the third-fastest start in franchise history, then added a couple more victories for good measure to hit the midway mark with a 25-12-4 record, good enough for a tie for fifth in the league, and a five-point lead over the rival Vancouver Canucks atop the Northwest Division.

And to think people were actually calling for head coach Mike Keenan's head a month and a half into the season.

Since then -- and we're talking about that monumental 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Sharks in San Jose Nov. 13 that was followed by team meetings, a system adjustment, and three days of hard practice -- the Flames have gone 16-4-3.

That's the kind of run you're used to seeing from the Sharks or Detroit Red Wings.

Miikka Kiprusoff has played, and won, more games than any goaltender in the league.

Jarome Iginla is averaging more than a point a game, but the team has a half-dozen forwards on pace for more than 20 goals and a couple more who could break that mark as well with strong second halves.

Injuries have come, but they've all missed major arteries and given guys like defenceman Adam Pardy, Dustin Boyd, Eric Nystrom and Andre Roy opportunities to be regular contributors in different facets of the game.

Keep in mind, however, there are 41 more games to play before the playoffs.

With a brutal schedule ahead of them, the Flames will be hard-pressed to duplicate the success they've had over the last 23 contests.


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